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Edinburgh Fringe 2022

Bold Moves

Ballet Ireland

Genre: Ballet, Dance

Venue: Dance Base


Low Down

A double bill featuring two Irish female choreographers, Marguerite Donlon and Zoë Ashe-Browne. Marguerite Donlon created Strokes Through the Tail for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago in 2005 taking inspiration from Mozart’s Symphony No 40 to create a work for six dancers that combines virtuosic dancing with buckets of humour and a delightful hint of irreverence. Us is a dance piece created by emerging choreographer Zoë Ashe Browne. Reflecting on the dancers’ own experiences of emigrating, this piece tells the story of the friendships and relationships people form away from home and the lifelong significance they can hold.


Ballet Ireland presents two contrasting pieces by Irish choreographers at the 2022 Edinburgh Festival Fringe performed by the company’s outstanding dancers.

The first is US by choreographer Zoë Ashe-Browne and it explores themes of home and friendships from the lens of artists who are often staying in different cities or countries when they are on tour. It’s a fascinating topic and Ashe Browne has created a wonderful piece for seven dancers.

Sitting on a dark green bench the group waits. They dance in different combinations evoking their relationships and connections. An opening solo is focused, sensory with expansive movement. Lovely haunting, ethereal music and sound introduce a male duo athletically balancing and enveloping each other, with lifts. Then a trio on the bench is exceptional in performance and the choreography brings out the reverie, grittiness and transports us.

Other highlights are a theatrical duo with twists, lifts and emotion, it’s sublime and transporting. Another duo mirrors the tick tock punctuated sound viscerally through their movement and gaze, which is very effective. Costume design by Isabella Heymann in rich warm colours, with pleats or layers of textures and folds, based on stylish everyday clothes with panache. Lighting is by Paul Keoghan.

The complex and eclectic variety of vibrant and moody music and sound selections for this piece is very effective by soundscape designer Howard Jones. For example, the combination of melancholic music and the choreography for a final duo is achingly beautiful, so well danced, poignant and moving, it may bring a tear to the eye.

The second piece of this show is Strokes through the Tail choreographed by Marguerite Donlon. Programme notes state that Donlon originally created this piece “for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago in 2005 taking inspiration from Mozart’s Symphone No 40 to create a work for six dancers that combines virtuosic dancing with buckets of humour and a delightful hint of irreverence”.

A magnificent corps of male dancers in formal black tail coats and one female in a three quarter length white tulle dress are determined, agile and athletic as they match their energy to Mozart’s melodic music and Donlon’s jaunty precise choreography. There are fun interactions among partners such as in a witty duo engaged in conversation and in other sections.

This is truly an ensemble piece with ever changing groupings, sometimes with delicious quirky long flouncy skirts (costumes by Branimira Ivanovo and lighting by Ernst Schiessl) and always with flowing visceral movement and joyous partnering. These dancers excel at the fast paced choreography with exceptional footwork, extensions, pirouettes that are sometimes off centre, plus some theatrical moments of wry humour, coy looks and attitude.

This exceptionally danced double- bill show is well worth seeing because the two pieces are so rich and fascinating. Visually, the show is beautiful, entertaining and viscerally emotive. This is transporting stuff!